Bail releases: Minister Lametti promises “targeted amendments”
Federal Minister of Justice , David Lametti, after meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts in Ottawa.
Federal Justice Minister David Lametti said Friday that his government will move quickly ” Targeted Amendments” to the Criminal Code to update the bail system in Canada.
Mr. Lametti made the commitment on Friday afternoon after what he described as a good and productive meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts.
We We have broad consensus on the way forward, he told reporters. He said the reforms will address the challenges posed by violent repeat offenders and those charged with crimes related to firearms or other weapons.
“Bail is a constitutional right, but it is not absolute. Our laws make it clear that bail can be denied where there is just cause, where it is necessary for public safety or to maintain public confidence in the administration of justice.
—David Lametti, Federal Minister of Justice
Premiers, the Conservative opposition in Ottawa and law enforcement officials have intensified pressure on the federal government since the start of the year to tighten the bail system.
In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last January, the 13 provincial and territorial premiers called for a reverse onus for firearms offenses and other serious crimes. This provision would require the accused who seeks bail to prove why he should obtain it.
Mr. Lametti would not elaborate on whether these specific provisions were planned, but he said his government was considering them.
Ontario Justice Minister Doug Downey told reporters on Friday the issue was raised at the meeting, but he remained coy about whether any promises were made. We felt heard. There was a lot of collaboration. I look forward to seeing concrete action as soon as possible, he said.
According to the agenda of the meeting, the debate on bail included discussions on two topics: reverse onus and other measures.
The agenda also included discussions on release enforcement and prosecution, improving bail monitoring and offense enforcement, and preventative measures.
Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said the provinces had been previously informed that changes would be announced in the next session of Parliament. We don't have specific proposals yet, he said on Friday.
Manitoba's Kelvin Goertzen called Minister Lametti's commitment an important first step. Saskatchewan's Bronwyn Eyre said there was a constructive attitude at the table. It looks like it will be a positive outcome, she said. We are very, very satisfied.
Calls for reform intensified in response to the death of OPP Constable Greg Pierzchala in late December. Mr. Lametti called the death of Agent Pierzchala a catalyst for change on Friday.
Court documents showed that one of the two people facing first-degree murder charges in connection with his death, Randall McKenzie, was initially denied bail in a separate case involving assault charges and weapons, but that he was released after a reconsideration of the decision.
Documents show that a warrant was later issued for McKenzie's arrest when he failed to show up for a court date last summer.
The Minister Lametti, however, said his counterparts agreed that any action taken in the name of public safety must not undermine efforts to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous and Black people in through the justice system.